The Narco News Bulletin

"The name of our country is América"

-- Simón Bolívar

A Message from Marcos before the July 2, 2000 Elections

Translated from the original Spanish by Al Giordano of The Narco News Bulletin

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June 19, 2000

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Here is the communiqué with our position before the coming elections. It says here what it says, which is a lot. We beg clemency from the editors.

Meanwhile, we are trembling. And not because "Bones" Albores has contracted with Alazraki to "raise up" his image (Albores is probably already seeking work in the promotion of dog food), nor because of the six hundred thousand dollars that he's going to pay (with money originally destined to "resolve the conditions of poverty and marginalization of the Chiapaneco Indians" - Zedillo dixit).

The never-elected Chiapas Governor Roberto Albores Guillen
April 1999, Palenque, Chiapas
photo Al Giordano

Nor are we trembling over the barks of "the puppy" Montoya Liévano (more nervous than ever because its already being discovered that they were his "boys" - that is, his paramilitaries - who were guilty of the attack on the State Police in El Bosque on June 12th).

No, we are shivering because we are drenched by the rain. And it's that, between helicopters and storms, not a single good roof can be found.

The sea says, as it likes to do, that there are storms and then there are storms; and the storm of July 3rd is still to come. I sigh and damn the lack of umbrellas. What else can I do?

Well, good health to you, and see if there are some birth control pills. There is more than one ballot box that needs them urgently.

From the Committee to Promote the Useless Vote, um, pardon, from the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.

El SupMarcos

Mexico, June of 2000

P.S. That tells an ad hoc story about the race of these times.

Once there was a public opinion poll that was very alone and abandoned. It went from one side to the other and nobody noticed it. Despairing, the poll, alone-and-abandoned, went to see a public relations and image specialist. The publicist turned out to be very expensive and the poll, alone-and-abandoned, not only for the check that he had to pay, but also because he had to cover for the taxi that was waiting outside the office. And it's that the image consultant was in high demand by the candidates of some official party. The poll, alone-and-abandoned, followed the instructions of the consultant and completely changed its "look" (look how the P.S. is already using the new lexicon). This done, he returned to the party offices. Everyone received him enthusiastically and he was made very famous and popular. When he walked along the streets of the city, a child saw him and asked his mother: Why is this mirror walking? So, so…


June 19, 2000

To the Mexican people:
To the people and governments of the world:

Brothers and Sisters:

Before the coming national election process, the CCRI-CG of the EZLN speaks its word:

First: In Mexico there is a war in the mountains of the Mexican Southeast, in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Hidalgo, Puebla, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí and other places with indigenous population. Tens of thousands of soldiers of the federal government and various police corps are waging a war of extermination against the Indian people of Mexico. Day after day, the dead or imprisoned indigenous blood accumulates. Between the jail and the tomb is decided the fate of the original people of these lands.

The extreme poverty, persecution, and the lack of recognition of Indian rights, have provoked the continuation not only of the resistance by the Zapatista peoples in the Mexican Southeast and also maintains the guerrilla activities of the ERPI and the EPR. Now it has also brought together other armed groups with demands of justice and democracy. There are few countries in América that have so many armed opposition groups such as those that are in Mexico.

Although ignored by the majority of the media, this war continues on its course. It's end doesn't have anything to do with the firepower or the number of combatants, but rather with the solution of just demands and the opening of spaces of democratic participation.

In the state of Chiapas the armed confrontations that began on January 1, 1994 continue. Even though the EZLN has demonstrated its will for a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict, the federal and state governments continue with violent acts against the Zapatista communities and evade complying with the San Andrés Agreements, which were signed almost five years ago.

With this unmentionable war at its root, our country comes closer to the moment in which, through an electoral process, the federal authorities will be renewed: the Executive and Legislative Branches.

Second: In this election process it has been evident that the place of the citizen as voter is not respected. In its place has been the media, markedly the electronic media, who have owned the singer's voice. The indiscriminate use of "polls," many of them conducted without the least bit of scientific rigor, have displaced the citizen voter as elector. Now it doesn't matter to dispute an election at the ballot box, but rather to win it or lose it in the headlines of the written press and the newsmakers of radio and television.

The citizen doesn't make his decision in front of the distinct political options, but rather in front of the media, and the image that they present of the political proposals. "Modernity" has not meant for our country the passage to democracy, to government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The exercise of political power has not passed from the political class to the citizens, but rather to the publicists, editors, anchors and commentators.

If sometimes it is said that governing can happen through the media, today this has been inverted so that now one is governed (and the government is disputed) in and by the media, the substitution of the citizen by the radio and the TV. This is not democracy. It is virtual government and the virtual change of government. The government palaces, the legislative halls and the polling places are already not in their real homes, but rather in news programming.

On this stage where the nation is substituted for the "rating," is where the electoral contest has fundamentally been offered. Save some honorable exceptions, the candidates for the presidency have led their efforts (and their economic resources) almost exclusively to the terrain of the media. Beyond the obvious profits, the media has obtained a political role that surpasses many of its prerogatives and, above all, its capacities.

It's clear that the opportunity of the political parties to make their positions known through radio and television is an important advance in democratization. And it's laudable that the parties take advantage of it.

The problem is that, more than a few times, this coverage is not fair (the official party demolishes the others in times and in stellar hours), and it is not a political position that is broadcast, but rather they opt for scandal, insult, defamation or banal gossip. More still, very often the communicator becomes the judge of what he communicates, and "decides" what and how he is going to inform.

As has been signaled by various workers in the press, the role of the media is not that of voter, but of communicator. To not understand that or not to work in congruence with that, has proved more than one to commit lamentable excesses.

The media in Mexico now have a more determinant role in national life. It's fair to recognize that not only has the irresponsibility of some of its members increased in the new character of their profession, but also that more than a few have grown in their independence, their critical spirit and their honesty. Still, the responsible attitude in the electronic and written press has not come from the majority of them.

This is not about putting aside the media or silencing them as a way to avoid the substitution of the citizenry's decision, but rather of returning the right of the citizens and the political organizations to fairness, truth, honesty and responsibility by the communicators in the political arena.

The citizen has a right to truthful, opportune and complete information. There is no law that guarantees this, nor agency that defends or monitors its compliance.

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas reaffirm one of the points of our fight: The right to information and culture.

Third: With the lights of the media exclusively focused on the presidential contest, a fundamental element has been left aside in the life of our Republic: The Legislative Branch.

The imminent election process will decide not only who will hold the title of the Executive Branch, but also the members of the federal Senate and House of Deputies of the Republic will be chosen.

In Mexico, presidentialism has been a heavy load and an obstacle for democracy. Although in the past 70 years we have never had a president who was not of the official party, the possible coming of the opposition to the presidential seat does not mean a "passage to democracy" if the six-year power remains concentrated in one person and if the powers of legislating and imparting justice are decorative elements that are renewed every three or six years. The all-powerful role of the presidency is a fact. What democracy is there when, during the course of six years, the fundamental decisions of a nation fall again to one individual?

An autonomous and independent legislative branch, separate from the executive, is indispensable in a democracy. Still, the campaigns for deputies and senators have been invisible. The national passion is placed into the contest for the presidency and has succeeded in hiding an advance already seen in the six-year term that is ending: A legislative branch that is in the struggle for its independence and autonomy.

Beyond confronting the executive, the legislative branch must make itself independent from the party leaderships that more than a few times supplant the leaders of the parliamentary factions in the agreements and dispositions that correspond exclusively to the legislative arena. Legislating is not the prerogative of the political parties, but rather of those who are elected democratically for this task.

By following the tail of the presidential campaigns, the candidates to the legislative branch don't gain a thing, nor do they help those who seek the Executive power. They are different elections because their function is different. The legislative contests deserve attention that they have not received.

We hope that the next legislature, so erased from these elections, will not do its job tied to compromises with their party leaders nor with the elected executive, but rather with the Mexicans who, voters or not for their candidacies, form the Mexican Nation by and with those who will make laws.

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas declare ourselves for an authentic balance of powers. Not only in the exercise of their job but also in the dispute for their own seats. It's as important to know the proposals and positions of the candidates for deputies and senators as those for the presidency of the Republic. The end of presidentialism is the condition for democracy in Mexico.

Fourth: The current national election process has been imbalanced on the side of the PRI and its candidate that have moved the entire governmental apparatus on their behalf. The buying of votes, the pressure on voters, the hauling of voters, the threats, the favoritism of some media outlets, have been used to support the imposition of the candidate of the PRI, Francisco Labastida Ochoa. Some of these unfairnesses have been opportunely demonstrated by national and international observers, by Non-Governmental Organizations, by political parties of the opposition, and by the honest press.

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas denounce that this is not about an election of citizens before political proposals and those who represent them, but rather an Election-of-the-State. The opposition confronts not only the official party, but also the entire apparatus of the Mexican State. There is no election under these conditions that can be qualified as "democratic."

Fifth: In spite of the crushing and scandalous support of the government for the campaign of the PRI, the citizen discontent is increasingly more eloquent. It is said today that it is possible that the PRI will not obtain the necessary vote to win the presidential seat, and that the next president of Mexico will be of the opposition.

Before this possibility, and also with material resources of the most diverse species, an argument has been launched: In the instability of every six-year change, warnings rain from the government and its circles about the catastrophes that will come upon us, the Mexican people, if a person who is not of the PRI comes to the presidency: War, devaluations, the flight of capital, social discontent, inflation, business collapses, unemployment, chaos.

Not to stray to far, one must remember what Zedillo warned (when the assassination of Colosio made him the candidate) if a government of a distinct party to the official one would be chosen. With Zedillo the crisis of December 1994 happened, the renewal of war in the Mexican Southeast, the non-compliance with the San Andrés Peace Agreements, the massacres of Aguas Blancas and El Charco in the state of Guerrero, the massacre of Acteal, the entrance of the Federal Preventive Police in the National University, the death of undocumented Mexicans in the United States, the escape of capital, the devaluation of the peso.

We have also suffered the growth of social discontent, the proliferation of active armed organizations, higher prices of basic products, an increase in unemployment, the FOBAPROA-IPAB bailout, the massive fall of small and medium sized businesses, close links between organized crime and the federal government, impunity for the white-collar criminals, the incarceration of social fighters, the militarization of indigenous zones, the increase in drug trafficking, the intents to privatize the electric industry and Mexican oil as well as higher education, the increase of dependence on foreign powers. In sum: The destruction of Mexico as a free and sovereign country. The only good thing about this six year period of Zedillo is that it is almost over.

The Future of Chiapas
Photo 1998 Al Giordano

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas remember that all the human catastrophes and disgraces have fallen upon us during and by the governments of the PRI. During many of these 70 years that the PRI has governed Mexico, all the disasters that one supposed could happen only with a different party in power have happened. It is difficult for us to imagine that it could be worse with the opposition in the government.

Sixth: The mere possibility that a candidate of the opposition could come to the presidency has provoked nonsense and distortions, but not only in the government ranks. Before the advance of electoral options by the opposition, in certain intellectual and political sectors has surged the idea of the "useful vote" (or in its kinder version: the "conditional vote.")

Concretely, the possibility that a candidate of the Alliance for Change (PAN-PVEM), Vicente Fox, could achieve a significant number of votes has provoked a true offensive against the candidate of the Alliance for Mexico (PRD-PT-PAS-CD-PSN), Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, that he decline his candidacy and join Mr. Fox in his presidential campaign. The arguments of this political juggling act vary in their complexity, but can be summed up in the following manner: It's most important to take the PRI out of the presidential house of Los Pinos, Fox has the chance to do it but needs a helping hand, Cárdenas doesn't have a chance, ergo, Cárdenas should convert his impossibility into the possibility of Fox and assure the victory over the PRI (and over the Alliance for Mexico, but this is not said in the argument).

Those who propose this are proposing that the electoral options already will not be political (projects for the nation and positions with respect to the distinct problems of the country) and that the voter would have no chance to support one or another political force, according to whether he identifies or not with it.

The resignation of Cárdenas from the electoral fight for the presidency, and his joining of the campaign of Vicente Fox, would not only mean the resignation of one person and his joining of his vote to that of the candidate of the Alliance for Chance. It would also mean the disappearance of the one electoral option of the Left in the fight for the presidency. We do not ignore that there is a debate over whether Cárdenas and PRD are of the Left. We think that they are still part of the Left, with all the subtleties and critiques that can be proposed, and we signal - and insist - that the political Left is wider than Cardenism, and of course, than PRD-ism.

To eliminate the Left from the electoral spectrum, that is to say, from a peaceful path of political change, what option remains for millions of Mexicans who have their hope and efforts gambled on profound social change? Abstention? The Guerrilla?

It's evident that Misters Vicente Fox and Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas represent two different projects for the country. The proposals of one and the other have the backing of millions of citizens. The decision of which of them is the better one will not be made in the number of votes that they obtain, but rather in the results that are achieved when they become the government.

The Cárdenas campaign is something more than a campaign for the presidential seat. It is, for millions of Mexicans, the argument of what the Left can be of struggling for change without having to become clandestine, illegal, in the armed struggle.

Cuauhtémoc With The People
Photo 1999 Al Giordano

The resignation of Cárdenas in the electoral fight would mean the resignation (at least in the immediate) of the institutional and partisan Left from peaceful and electoral change.

History comes to call in its chips sooner or later. Those who have reprimanded the Zapatistas for not supporting the PRD "because although they are not politically convincing it is still better than the PRI and to not support the PRD helps the triumph of the PRI in Chiapas" are now against the same pragmatic argument. Now they themselves respond that "principles come first," they now have the answer to the question, "Why don't the Zapatistas vote for the PRD in Chiapas?"

For the Zapatistas, politics is a question of principles. Not only of principles, but also of principles. Those who have social change and civil and peaceful struggle as principles, in order to achieve it, must work toward them, without paying mind to the adversities or opportunities, if they want to have legitimacy in the Mexico from below.

Today, before the current election process, We the Zapatistas declare ourselves to respect this form of civil and peaceful struggle and so that all the political options (the Right and the Left to use geographic terms) will be represented, in a way that the citizen can truly choose between them. We refuse the argument of the "useful vote."

Seventh: The Federal Elections Institute, beyond organizing the elections, will be who, by law, says who will be the winners of the elections.

In spite of the avalanche of legal complaints by the opposition and by Non-Governmental Organizations, the president of the IFE has gotten ahead of the process and assures that it will be an election that is "clean and transparent." Not only does he make adventurous prophecies, but also this lord demands of the opposition candidates and the citizens that we give an unconditional endorsement to his verdict and that we accept the results of an election that has not yet happened. The president of the IFE asks us that we grant him a "10" for a task that has not yet been done.

The multitude of frauds that, still before the election, already are mounting: buying of votes, conditional use of governmental programs, inequality in the media broadcasts, threats, blackmails, etc. And it remains to be seen the capacity for monitoring and avoiding that, beyond the ballot boxes, fraudulent activities are conducted.

It must be signaled that, on some occasions, the IFE has been used for things that have nothing to do with its job. A great number of Zapatistas don't have a voter's card. This is because the personnel of the IFE in Chiapas in charge of the photo-credentialing in this state are found in collusion with the military intelligence agencies. The information and photos for the credential are "facilitated" to the Federal Army so that, with the help of "informants," they identify the Zapatistas and its people: The IFE as an arm of counter-insurgency.

It is undeniable that the making of the IFE into a citizen agency is an advance, and that some of its members have endured strong pressures by the government the PRI. But it cannot be asked beforehand to anybody that they accept the results of a process before it is conducted. Above all, in a country like Mexico, where the elections are a synonym for a parallel world full of "crazy mouses," "tamale operations," and etceteras that surpass any literary fiction.

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas declare that an electoral fraud is already in march, and that nothing guarantees that the day of July 2nd, 2000, will not culminate in a masked imposition of grave consequences.

Eighth: For the Zapatistas, democracy is much more than an electoral contest or putting the alternative party in power. But it is also an electoral contest if it is clean, fair, honest and plural.

That's why we say that electoral democracy doesn't make a democracy, but is an important part of it. That's why we are not anti-election. We consider that the political parties have a role they must comply with (neither are we anti-parties, although we have criticisms of what the parties do.)

We think that the elections represent, for millions of people, a space for a dignified and respectable struggle.

The electoral season is not the Zapatistas' time. Not only for our being without a face and our armed resistance, but also, above all, for our zeal to find a new form of making politics that has little or nothing to do with the current way.

We want to find a politics that comes from below toward above: one in in which "obedience leads" is more than a slogan; one in which power is not the object; one in which the "referendum" and the "plebiscite" are more than words that are difficult to spell; one in which an official can be removed from his post by popular election.

Of the political parties we say that we don't feel represented by any of them. We are not PRD-istas, nor PAN-istas, and much less PRI-istas.

To the parties, we criticize their distance from society, their existence and activities purely responding to the electoral calendar, their political pragmatism that spreads only in their directions, the cynical juggling act of some of their members, their discrediting of that which is different.

Good Friday Procession, Polho, Chiapas, 1998
Photo 1998 Al Giordano

Democracy is something that, independently of who is in the job, the majority of people have the power of decision over the matters that are their business. It is the power of the people to sanction whomever is of the government, depending on their capacity, honesty and effectiveness.

In the Zapatista idea, democracy is something that is constructed from below and with everyone, including those that think differently than us. Democracy is the exercise of power by the people all the time and in all places.

Today, in front of the current election process, We the Zapatistas endorse our fight for democracy. Not only for electoral democracy, but also for electoral democracy.

Ninth: With respect to our role in the national situation we say that we continue awaiting the compliance with the San Andrés Peace Agreements and clear signals, from this or the next government, that there is a serious commitment to the political path of solution to the war.

While the adequate conditions are not complied with, there will not be dialogue nor negotiation.

We don't want vain promises or for them to tell us what we need or what is good for us. Neither are seeing employment as police or forest rangers.

We want an attentive ear, a true word and a serious commitment in a dialogue that brings an end to the war.

If, as expected, the government of Mister Zedillo insists in his war, in the non-compliance with his word, and in irresponsibility as a political norm, then the entering government will inherit a war, that which the Zapatistas declared on January 1, 1994.

Facing this war, the new government will have only two options:

To continue the policy of Mister Zedillo and simulate solutions while it continues militarizing, persecuting, killing and lying.

Or to comply with the conditions of dialogue, to offer demonstrations of seriousness and responsibility in the compliance of agreements and to resolve not only the war, but also the demands of the Indian people of Mexico.

There are no other options. Those in power who have in mind the possibility of a "definitive" military solution are completely in error.

The EZLN cannot be anhilated militarily. Any offensive military campaign against us is destined not to last hours or days (as is supposed in the high military spheres), nor weeks, months or years; they can try it for entire decades, and the EZLN will continue still, armed and masked, demanding democracy, liberty and justice.

Whatever the decision of the new government will be, without regard to its political affiliation, it will have a coherent response from the EZLN.

If it opts for the violence of low intensity, the simulation and the trick, it will see how time passes without the problem being solved and it will have the disrespect and distrust of the Zapatistas.

If it opts for dialogue and compliance with agreements, it will see that the Zapatistas will do the same without hesitation and that, in little time, a dignified peace will be a reality and not an empty phrase.

This is precise to say that, in the case that the government attempts a military solution in any of its variations (whether that be a surgical strike, a partial invasion or one in all the communities, or a full-scale military action), it will find itself with thousands of indigenous risen up in arms, in war, ready for everything except for surrender or defeat.

We will not die. Individual or collective martyrdom is not on the Zapatista agenda.

Consulta Zapatista, March 21, 1999
Acapulco, Guerrero
Photos 1999 Al Giordano

In peace or in war, the EZLN is ready. The new government will have the word and the opportunity to choose.

Tenth: For everything said above we declare that:







Brothers and Sisters:

This hour is not our hour. It will come someday, when there is peace and respect for the Indian people. When democracy goes further than the election calendar. On that day, Mexico will not be democratic only for the Zapatistas, but also for them. On that day we will not be fighting for a governmental post, but rather we will walk alongside of millions of women and men who, like us, fight for…




From the Mountains of the Mexican Southeast
For the Clandestine Revolutionary Indigenous Committee - General Command
Zapatista Army of National Liberation

Subcommandante Insurgente Marcos
Mexico, June of 2000

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